(And when I say “successfully,” I mean that the resulting design doesn’t end up looking like the consignment shop where you bought everything!)
I LOVE adding unique second-hand finds to my home, as well as to my clients’ when appropriate.
The right vintage or second-hand piece can:
- Add a bit of character or quirk that something shiny & new (or something new made to look old) just doesn’t have.
- Potentially save a ton of cash.
- Add character AND save cash. That, my friends, is a TOTAL SCORE.
But … you can take the love of the hunt too far … and then your home just may end up looking like the consignment store you purchased half your furniture from.
NOT what you want for a space that you want to love for the next 10-20 years.
So how do you know what will look good and what won’t? How do you draw the line?
Vintage Finds in MY Forever Home
First off, a little inspiration with a few of my own FAVORITE finds — both in my own home, and in some of my client projects!
My “new” old cherry farm table — which I imported from England! — is hands-down my favorite vintage find in my home. The thing weighs more than 200 lbs, and I love every mark of patina and color variation. It’s also amazing in that I don’t have to worry about new scuff marks or fork dents! There are already so many, a few more just add to the character.
(Psst — did you know that I have a SUPER sneaky way to save serious $$$ on online vintage finds???? In fact, I saved $1,000 on the above table.
I revealed the secret in my FREE masterclass. The last one is today 10 AM EST if you want join!)
BTW — that painting by Brian Keith Stephens in the back corner of the above pic was also a second-hand find — at an auction outside of Boston.
This little side table. Nope, it’s not super unique. But, get this — I knew exactly what I wanted according to my plans — a tilt-top tea table. A tea table is a little higher than a typical side table (30″ — dining height — vs. approximately 23″-27″ for most side table). I wanted something a little imperfect in height so that it would look like I was just casually “assembling” furniture for porch use (enclosed porch, in this instance). Why is this little table such a super score? Because it’s in perfect refinished condition, and I got it for $75 on Craigslist. Why buy new when what I want and need is out there, in good used condition? It was a functional money saver.
“Supporting-role” tables are a GREAT way to source second-hand and save $$$.
This Stickley desk in my She-Shed office (a featured Houzz.com Room of the Day and in Cottages & Bungalows Mag.). Oh, I saved bunch on this baby! And it was the perfect masculine feel I wanted for the cowgirl-inspired space.
I love collecting original art. I saw this painting, “Cloud Towers” by William Leon Stacks, at an auction. It depicts a coming storm off the panhandle of Florida, a place my family loves to visit.
In fact, probably 90% of the art in our home was found second-hand.
The bench-made tiger maple corner cabinet is a true treasure of mine, created by the wonderful D.R. Dimes (Dimes went out of business for a while during the pandemic, but the owner, Doug, a true master craftsman, seems to be back!)
The glass chandelier was an Etsy find.
I saw this sign in a re-sale shop and HAD to have it for Thing 1’s room. This is one of those total “quirk” things that can’t be replicated by anything new.
This 1960s Drexel Heritage campaign dresser in Thing 2’s room was a Chairish find and also came with a side table, a bed headboard, and a desk. I chose to split the set, keeping the dresser & the side table, and swapping out the desk and headboard in order to “mix it up.”
Want to mix up YOUR matched bedroom set? Read this post for 3 No-Fail FORMULAS. No need to throw the baby out with the bathwater!
This fabulous Chippendale mirror — again, an auction find. I bought this mirror 2 years ahead of the No Plain Jane Powder Room One Room Challenge (also featured here on Houzz). But I knew exactly where I wanted to use it when I bought it because I already had a rough plan in my head.
Vintage Finds for Every Style Forever Home
“Sure,” you may be saying, “but Amy has an OLD house. Old stuff naturally works well. What about for those of us who have newer homes?”
I’m so glad you asked! You can use vintage, antique, or just good value, well-made consignment decor in any style of home. IF you have a clear vision of how they’ll work in your home’s particular style, that is! Let me show you a couple of past client projects.
These little taupe swivel chairs from Kravet (Trade-only, designer furnishings! That little chair in the pic is one of a pair, with the other to the right of the coral grasscloth bunching tables.) were a FABULOUS auction find for this California distance client in a 1970s split-level home.
This modern faux boix bronze & travertine coffee table by Baker (this thing weighs a TON) …
…and these camel leather library chairs in a mens’ clubby addition to an antique Cape Cod home in New Hampshire were respectively perfect both for “getting the mix” & keeping the addition from feeling too “new” compared to the older sections of the home.
This fab 1960s teak secretary for a teenage boy’s room in a 1980s builder’s “New Traditional” is small-space functional and super retro cool.
This STUNNING mahogany campaign dresser, an auction find for 1/3 the cost of comps on 1st Dibs, will add some history to a Craftsman-ish new build on Lake Sunapee.
So, how can YOU incorporate vintage or second-hand decor in your home without going overboard?
3 Steps to Successfully Use Vintage & Second-Hand Decor
Unlike certain famous designer/bloggers who shall not be named here, I don’t go to antiques markets and just buy a lot of stuff that I think is cool. I just don’t have the cash to blow, the local resale market to recoup my losses from things I don’t use, or the storage space to keep those pieces I don’t have the perfect spot or project for *just yet.*
So, if you’re in a similar boat to mine but want to think about incorporating vintage or second-hand finds SUCCESSFULLY into your home (without it becoming a hodge-podge), here is my advice:
1. Solidify your Forever Home Style. If you have a CLEAR MAP of where you want to go, you are much more likely to get there!
2. Create your room plan according to your that style. In your plan, you can do one of the following:
- Use a vintage or second-hand piece as a FOUNDATIONAL piece if you’ve already found it. Meaning, you’re going to be basing your room design around it. In this way, it is one of the FIRST things that may go into a room plan.
- Use your vintage or second hand finds as SUPPORTING-PLAYERS. Meaning, you’re going to fill in a gap or two with them — either functionally (to create blend) or character-fully (to stand out as a part of your unique mix). In this way, you’ve designed the majority of your room, leaving a few holes for those serendipitous & fun finds. HOWEVER, you know “approximately” what you are looking for — size, functionality, wood/color/finish, etc.
3. Whichever way you incorporate vintage pieces into your plans, make sure they account for no more than 25% of your room’s furnishings.
Now, this percentage may depend largely upon the area of the country where you live. If you live in a more rural area (like mine!), your pickings will be slimmer, and using 25% vintage at the most will keep your rooms from feeling like your great-grandma’s house. If you’re in a more metro area, you may be able to find barely-used designer pieces that feel very current, and, thus, possibly use a larger percentage of second-hand items depending upon your home’s style.
But … HOW do you know if a vintage piece will fit your home’s style?
THAT, my friends, is the million-dollar question. But, seeing as each one of your homes is different from the next, it’s not one that I can answer for you individually here in this post.
Whether a vintage piece fits into your home’s Forever Style depends upon your home’s architecture, your personal aesthetic preferences, and how you blend the two.
Only then, can you create a plan that SUCCESSFULLY allows for incorporating vintage and second-hand finds.
In The Home Glow Method, I give you a formula to creatively forge a Forever Home Style that is timeless and yet fresh (“forever” style, right?!) — one that feels like YOU but doesn’t fight your home’s bones, either.
Then we go through, step-by-step all the practical know-how you need to create a plan — including HOW TO SOURCE that plan — while allowing for serendipity, sales, and Aunt Sally’s Chippendale dining chairs!
Head on over to the info page for more details, including what students are saying about THEIR TRANSFORMATIONS in how they decorate their Forever Homes now!
DOORS CLOSE TOMORROW at 5 PM EST!!!!
After that, you’ll have to wait for Fall 2021 for the next session … and potentially miss all those 4th of July auctions and furniture sales (because you STILL don’t have a plan in place!).
Do you have any antique, vintage, or second-hand scores of which you’re particularly proud??? Let me know in the comments. Honestly, I have a hard time picking my favorites in my own home!